Friday, April 28, 2006

Have You Heard of S. 1955?

An invitation and initiation to the World of the Blog! Another path along my journey beside fellow health advocates. Just got back from Washington, D.C., where I participated in my first Lobby Day and Congressional Briefing. I was there to lobby with the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC). Most of you already know about my interest in eating disorders. I was able to meet with four Congressional Health Legislative Assistants to lobby for/against specific bills moving through Congress. I was on the Hill!

We lobbied for mental health parity (the “Wellstone Bill” H.R. 1402) as well as for eating disorder awareness, education, and prevention (H.R. 49 and S. 1325). We also lobbied for their companion bills to be introduced.

There was also a dreadful bill we lobbied against. When I think of advocacy, I usually think of lobbying for something. However, I was outraged to learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2005 (HIMMA), also known as S.1955 .

When I first saw that S.1955 was an amendment to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, I had great hopes. I thought it would be a way to close the existing loophole for self-insured businesses. Not so! These businesses are currently exempt from state health insurance mandates. If passed, S.1955 would preempt the state mandates for even those not self-insured!

HIMMA voids current state health insurance laws unless the laws already exist in 45 or more states. Even then, S.1955 could change/weaken the individual state laws. Since only 39 states have mental health parity laws, HIMMA would void these. State laws governing cancer screening and treatment would also be affected.

Say NO to HIMMA. Tell others to say NO.

For more information on the state by state impact of HIMMA, go to Families USA.

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